Let There Be Music: the Waldorf Approach

There are few educational models in the world that value music as richly as does Waldorf education. Andrea Lyman wrote a wonderful article for RENEWAL Magazine about the Waldorf Music Curriculum, Grades 1-8. Enjoy and share!

Click here to read the article!

Seeking Applicants: 6th Grade Teacher

Are you our Sixth Grade Teacher for 2015-2016, ready to lead the way into middle school at Anchorage Waldorf School?

A strong and independent spirit, a love of adventure and the natural world, and hands, heart and mind dedicated to the ideals and practical realities of Waldorf education – if you have these attributes, Anchorage Waldorf School is seeking you to lead a strong fifth grade class into middle school. A Waldorf teaching certificate or proven equivalent experience, particularly in middle school grades, is required. Experience teaching in a mixed-age or blended-grades model is a plus.

The individual we seek will have a proven track record of successful teaching in the classroom. You will have effective classroom management skills, and a deep joy for both learning and teaching. We seek candidates who are innovative, curious, skilled, imaginative, and generous. Our teachers are entrepreneurs in the classroom: not for commerce, but for imagination, inspiration and intuition. Along with the school community, you will be building capacity in the children with whom you work.

Anchorage is nestled between the ocean and the majestic peaks of the Chugach range. The northern lights really do stream overhead, and just wait until you see the view from Flattop, with snow-covered Denali silhouetted in the distance and our sparkling city spread gently at your feet! It’s true that we love to ski, fish, climb, and bike here, but we are also artists and musicians, thinkers and pioneers. Anchorage is home to two universities, a renowned performing arts center, a symphony, an opera, local food and farmer’s markets, and several world class museums. Moose, bear, lynx, and other wild creatures wander the city.

Though small, our school embodies the Alaskan spirit that continues to shine brightly through the long, cold winters. We are a vibrant and hard-working community, with dedicated teachers, a strong festival life, and diverse community-enrichment opportunities. We currently serve children from birth through fifth grade, with a commitment to rebuilding our middle school (that’s where you come in!). We have adopted a mixed age grades model and a new governance structure to support that effort. Anchorage Waldorf School was founded in 1992, and has been serving children and families for more than 21 years.

Is our beacon drawing you north? Contact us at: diane_vandomellen@waldorfak.org with a resume, cover letter, one-page biography, and three letters of professional reference. We look forward to hearing from you!

AWS Hosts Foundation Studies

Exploring color

Foundation Studies color exploration


Handwork experience led by Diane — felting

Black and White

Studies in light and dark with charcoal



Class with Nathaniel

Nathaniel Williams from the Center for Anthroposophy leads morning study.


Variations on color

Community Enrichment Classes & Events

Feeling crafty? Interested in enriching your parenting skills?  AWS  offers many adult opportunities to learn and grow. We hope you can join us for one or more of these events. Register with Mira by calling the office at 333-9062. Payment will hold your spot.



“Eurythmy for Adults” with Peter Karnowski, Wednesdays April 8 & 15, 6:30-7:30-pm and Saturday April 18, 11:30-12:30pm in the Hall. $10 suggested donation.

Come experience eurythmy for adults, and enjoy this social art that makes tone and speech visible. Peter is our visiting eurythmist from Mt. Shasta, California, and here for five weeks teaching Anchorage Waldorf School students. Eurythmy is a living art that is unique to Waldorf schools around the world. Join us!

“View from the Small Chair” with Brandy Steinhilber, Friday, April 24, 2015, 12:30-2pm.  Free

Join us for a fun and hands-on experience in our first grade. This is an opportunity for parents and grandparents to experience first grade from the child’s perspective. Ms. Steinhilber will lead you through a movement circle, story, book work and maybe even some singing. Come and see why children hate to miss school at AWS! Contact  enroll@waldorfak.org to reserve your spot. There is no childcare for this event.

“Learning Support in Waldorf Schools” with Jo-Ann Climenhage, PhD. from Sacramento, CA, Wednesday, April 29. 6:30-8pm in the Hall. Suggested donation $10.

Jo-Ann will be working with us all week in the classrooms, sharing her expertise and skills with AWS teachers.  Her goal is to help teachers develop and hone observation and creative tools for extra learning support in the classroom. During this Community Enrichment evening, she will share ideas with  parents for supporting and helping with learning challenges at home.

Jo-Ann is a former college professor who met Waldorf education and turned from the college classroom to the Waldorf classroom. She took a class from grade one through eight, and now teaches, travels and mentors as a Learning Support specialist at Waldorf schools on the west coast. She is an expert with first grade readiness, as well as assessments in Waldorf schools. She is also the mother of 4th and 8th grade Waldorf students.

2015 Small Chair Flyer_FINAL_email-page-001


“Waldorf Mixed Age Grades Model and the Bay School” with Scott Springer from the Bay School in Blue Hill Maine, Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 6:30-8pm in the Hall. Free

For more than 20 years, the Bay School has successfully used the mixed age grades model (sometimes called “combined grades” or “blended grades”) in their Waldorf classrooms, all the way through 8th grade.  Scott has taught there for 20 years, and serves as both faculty chair and faculty board representative. We are honored to host him and learn more about this model recently adopted by the Anchorage Waldorf School.


“The Temperaments in Waldorf  Education” with Virginia Smith, Wednesday, February 25, 6:30-8pm in the Hall. Cost is $10.

What can we learn from the way a Waldorf teacher works with the four temperaments in the classroom? Identifying and understanding our own temperament, and our child’s, gives us a helpful tool for our parenting and teaching toolbox. Join us for a lively presentation and discussion about the temperaments.

Virginia Smith has been a Waldorf teacher and adult educator for more than 15 years in Calgary, Vancouver, and other Canadian Waldorf schools.


“Waldorf Expose’ – A Closer Look at Anchorage Waldorf School” with AWS faculty, Wednesday, March 4, 6:30-8pm in the Hall. Free.

Meet Anchorage Waldorf  School teachers and  learn  how they teach the curriculum and work with each class in a developmentally attuned way. You will get a close up look at Morning Lesson books, handwork, woodwork, and more. Join us for this informative evening to understand not only the “what”, but the “why” and “how” of Waldorf education as it is embodied at Anchorage Waldorf School.


AWS Adopts New Governance Model

In May 2014, the Board of Trustees at Anchorage Waldorf School adopted an executive director model of administration and appointed current Interim Administrator, Jeanne Larsen, to serve in this role.  Over the summer, a committee of board and faculty representatives built a detailed job description for this position based on our current structure, needs, and strengths along with a review of models for this role at other schools across the country. At the end of the 2014-15 year we will evaluate how the executive director model has worked for our school and assess the outcomes to make the decision whether or not to continue with this structure long-term.

Following several strategic planning sessions led by AWS alumni parent and Professional Growth Systems partner Doug Johnson during the spring of 2014, members of the AWS community opted to pursue a change in governance structure to address the current needs of the school and to strengthen operations.  There was strong agreement that an executive director model would allow for more focused and clear systems of communication, accountability and resource management.

The board asked Jeanne Larsen to step into the role of Executive Director following a full evaluation led by the board’s executive committee this spring.  Jeanne is a strong candidate to move the school forward; she has a deep love for our school and is in a unique position to help us figure out what this position should and could be as we move forward.  We are fortunate to have a leader with her commitment, experience and skill set at the helm.


AWS Alumni : Myth Busters + Advice

Here are Waldorf Myth Busters + Advice that a parent gathered from the outstanding AWS Life After AWS Alumni Student/Parent Panel on May 20.
“Waldorf students leave 8th grade unprepared for high school math.”
Wrong.  In fact, many AWS grads think they can do math so well that they skip Algebra 1 and go straight into Geometry. Yikes! Here’s where it can get challenging (unless you’ve taken Algebra 1 in summer school beforehand like one student did), but because they LOVE LEARNING, they figure it out and get the extra help they need. So really, we’re sending children out into the world who are confident and willing to take challenges.
Also, in Isabeau Barnes’ high school algebra class this year, she is one of three students who don’t have to take the final because they have an “A” already.  The other 2 students are fellow AWS graduates.
Mike Price, an alumni parent, mentioned that his daughter Anna did struggle with math in high school. She seems to have gotten over it however since she is currently a Math and Physics major in University.
“Waldorf students have a hard time with the social transition into a large high school.”
Wrong.  Many students cited their ability to MAKE FRIENDS MORE EASILY because they’d been in smaller classes their whole lives and had been forced to not only deal with many personalities in an intimate setting for years, but also to maintain these friendships day in and day out.  Can’t just ignore someone you’re annoyed with for the rest of the semester at AWS, right?
Many students cited how their involvement in cross country running and cross country skiing gave them an instant community.
One student did know her limitations in a crowd, and the desire to be in a smaller school lead her to Polaris for high school. Here again, we’ve sent a child out into the world who knows who she is and what she wants. She is the editor of their school newspaper.  Did I mention that she WROTE A NOVEL for her 8th grade project?
“If a Waldorf class doesn’t have the same teacher for 8 years, something is wrong.”
Wrong.  While this is the ideal, most of these students had 2 or more teachers for their experience at AWS.
“Waldorf graduates are totally unprepared and naive to the seedier aspects of high school like teenage sex and drug use.”
Correct. But would you want this any other way?
So, what can we do as AWS parents to prepare our children for high school? A couple of things stood out:
1.) Enroll them in an online typing course.
2.) Teach them to use a combination lock and explain the concept of having to lock up their things.
3.) Go to the library and do a quick overview on the concept of a “text book.”
4.) Teach them how to do proper research online.
5.) M-a-a-a-y-be have a brief sex and drugs talk.
Enough said. Many thanks to those who attended our panel and asked (and answered) such outstanding questions.  It was just the spark and renewal that I needed. These are phenomenal people we are preparing for the world and we should be very proud of our school in its ability to do so.



Tuesday May 20, 6:30-8pm in the Hall at Anchorage Waldorf School. Come and meet some of our alumni, an alumni parent, and high school teachers who appreciate the qualities our students bring to high school. Find out who they are, and what they do after they graduate from AWS.


Myth Busting: How Reading is Taught in a Waldorf School

Sarah Baldwin is the creator of the Moon Child blog and a huge proponent of the Waldorf approach to learning. We’re happy to share her blog post “Myth Busting: How Reading is Taught in a Waldorf School.”

Please share in your social media circles and help spread the word!

And check out our video on reading with our very own fourth grade teacher Kathleen Smith!